Wednesday, January 27, 2010

A Perfect Storm

There I was - wearing only a pair of shorts and asleep on the floor of my room - comfortably, mind you at 6:30 in the evening. Little did I know when I started the day today, but a series of events would transpire over the past 48 hours that ended up with me in the state previously mentioned. In rough order of how these events came to pass -and a small window into life on the ship: The last time I slept I was actually able to clear out a pretty good chunk of time and I got some other work done early, so I was able to catch up on what I've been missing this week working both during the day and again at night. I went to bed instead of going to lunch and woke up around 6 or 7 in the evening. Needless to say, I was rested. The flight schedule came out and I saw I had a flight the following day -briefs at 10 in the morning and we were going to fly from noon to 2pm. Awesome - always a good time to feel the breeze, see the sun, and get my nose burned a little - ow. Given what time it was, I knew I wouldn't be able to get to bed early, and my schedule was pushed enough back to the right that the flight would just be at the end of my day - good deal. So I did my normal thing, had a good work out, some breakfast with a coffee, and went to the brief / flight.
While I was working in the morning before the flight, the ship went through a series of drills called "General Quarters" or "GQ" for short -and no, GQ on the ship does not offer the same refined, intriguing, and hip experience as the magazine of the same name. It's how the ship prepares for various catastrophes that might befall a ship such as this - explosions, flooding, fires, that kind of thing - and given our recent experiences, none of these are too far out of the realm of possibility. The key element that this that contributed to the 'perfect storm' is that whenever they do these drills, they shut off all of the air conditioning. So unbeknownst to me as I got the aircraft ready and did my flight, my room back at the ship was quietly baking and getting warmer with each passing minute.
Although, I will come to find that one of the room's saving graces is that (being made out of metal as I previously learned) the floor is always cool to the touch - and can be refreshing to walk on in your bare feet. More on that later.
The flight itself was really good - there are some pictures that hopefully will work and will be posted with this. I can't say exactly where it is, but for the sake of my wife and my parents - yes, honey -it's safe. Safe and crazy hot. I drank a lot of water, but with so much wind, you don't really realize how much water you lose throughout the time.
So when I got back and stowed the aircraft, I went down to my room and realized that it was actually cooler outside on deck with the breeze than down in my room now with no air circulation. Unfazed, I had about 7 hours before I needed to be up again so I took a shower, read a little, and then crashed in bed - just wearing some shorts because of the sauna that is now my room - I always sleep better when I'm exhausted regardless - like that really heavy deep sleep where you feel like there's a weight pressing down on you because you don't move a muscle. So that's exactly where I was when the phone rang. I don't think I've told you about the phone in my room - if I have, it's worth explaining again - the sound of that phone is
Imagine 1 part screeching tires, 2 parts train wreck, half a part explosion, and a touch of breaking glass, and you get something close to this abomination of a communication device. Compound that with the fact I am the only person in my room who will get up to answer the thing to make it shut up and you get the idea. To recap: I'm exhausted, dehydrated, sore, about 2 hours into my recovery in a hot, muggy room, and my muscles are beginning to atrophy from disuse while I'm passed out. And that stupid phone is ringing - the only way to make it stop is to tell the person on the other end to stop calling, so I jump out of bed - yeah - great idea, right? Except the chair isn't where it was before, my legs don't work, and I'm not even sure if I'm awake or just dreaming this horrible sound. So yeah - I trip / crash / fall / crumble to the floor and I can't control my body. I tell my legs to get up and my arms flail around. Weird, huh? At least I thought so. Again, unfazed, I end up trying to crawl to the phone. In between rings of the phone I find that I'm actually nodding off there on the floor. (Don't worry, honey - it's clean) But sure enough, **RING** - crawl -stop - doze - darkness - silence - **RING** - crawl - stop - doze - etc, etc. I go through that cycle a couple of times and the caller eventually gives up - awesome - the sound is gone. Now it's just: stop- doze - darkness - nice, cool floor - sleep.
And that's where you would have found me - around 6:30 in the evening -sleeping comfortably on my floor wearing a pair of shorts. A perfect storm.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Lessons Learned

Metal is harder than wood I figured by now I would have figured this lesson out - it seems pretty simple - wood, metal, which is harder? But not Billy - nope, I needed a special instructional period with it. Contrary to ship building practices in the 1400s, ships today are built almost entirely of metal (I say almost because there's probably some rubber or something in there non-metallic). The other night I needed to get something out of my room- without windows and in the middle of the ship, there are three options for lighting schemes: white light, red light, and black-hole /anti-matter / darkest-reaches-of-space-darkness-kind-of-light. I went with the latter of the three so as not to disturb my slumbering roommates. Bad idea. Remember the whole "Ship is made of metal" thing? Well combine that with the darkest reaches of space and my general lack of spatial awareness in my own room (all I really do in there is sleep anyways) and you get a lesson. Well I get a lesson, most other people would probably just turn on the light and avoid the learning I was about to experience. It came in the form of the standard 'metal corner of a ladder to top part of my head' form. And all of the sudden the room wasn't so black anymore, I was seeing stars - "they're so beautiful" - I thought. The sheer surprise and blunt force trauma to my head almost was enough to cause a release to the muscle holding in my bodily fluids. So yeah - it was pretty awesome. I did take advantage of the lack of light and anybody seeing me by curling up in the fetal position on the ground until the blinding pain went away and I just went back to being blinded by the darkness. I checked myself out in the mirror in the bathroom and thankfully there was no bleeding, but there was a dent -yeah, a dent in my head - what is my head made of - aluminum? It went away - after a day or two. But the lesson comes in as I was checking myself out in the mirror - at home I run into stuff all of the time -doors, door jams, walls, that sort of thing. But I kept thinking to myself - man, why does this hurt so much - and then I learned my lesson- most of the stuff in my house is made of wood. Metal is harder than wood. Lesson learned

You know you've been on the boat a long time when...-Your buddy says, "Hey man, I bet you I can eat the inside of this role without touching the outside with anything except my fingers and not touching the inside with my hands at all." "How much are we betting?""Oh, nothing, I'm going to do this one for FREE!"Awe-inspiring. America's best and brightest locked in a tin can for...83 days straight now I think.

-The topic of conversation at the table has reduced down to two guys trying to figure out if they have read any of the same books. Rules start being applied - no cliffs notes allowed, must have been more recent than high school, must have finished the book, work-related books do not count. And everybody else is intently listening to their conversation, vaguely intrigued.

-You realize you haven't seen the sun for over 2 weeks - corollary to that is when people start to appear as white as I am all the time

-You try to see how fast you can read a book

-Even though you are the worst crossword puzzle person EVER, you actually make an honest attempt at the crossword puzzle book your family sent you - and realize you still aren't any good at them

-You get up, shave, put on your uniform, go to work, and then wake up in bed and realize that was the dumbest waste of a dream ever

I'll keep this collection going since there is no sign of land in the near future.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Hey Howdy Hey

So Christmas and the New Year (Microsoft apparently realizes that "new year" is an official holiday, thus: 'New Year") have both come and gone.You could tell what season it was around here, though on both days I remember remarking to myself - oh yeah, today's Christmas. Scheduling kind of pushed Thanksgiving and Christmas to the right a day to the last Friday in November and the 26th - no matter, really. The ship was blessed with over 40,000 pounds of mail on Christmas day (the real one on the 25th). In that bunch of mail and for the past month or so we've been getting Christmas cards from kids around the country. Very sweet indeed - these kids brought a lot of smiles and a warm, fuzzy feeling in the hearts of the guys around here - though some of these kids have a sense of humor. I would be remiss if some of these cards weren't immortalized in my blog. My own comments will be in parentheses ( ) Any spelling errors from here on out are just a representation of the card -I'm old enough to use a spellcheck.

Happy Christmas
Hi soldiers thank you for saving our country I wish I could see you in person beca well actually I wouldn't because I need to be safe have an urgent holiday Have a rockin holiday, Anber (the word "because" was started, not finished, then crossed out)

Thank you Soldiers
Your a soldier, yes you are.
You light our country like a star.
You guard our country, yes you do.
You keep our country good as new.
Well thanks for keeping our country in shape,
Do you ever use some tape
I wonder if you like squash.
Thanks, thanks, my name is Josh
Your Friend, Josh

Happy Holidays
Roses are red violets are blue
Candy is sweet and my mom and dad will protect me
And I hope you do that for me too

Dear Marines I hope next Christmas that you can see your famalies. I'm so sorry that you can't see them this year. L Now that I have said that, I hope you have an awesome Christmas. Thank you for saveing us from people comeing here and trying to kill us. You guys are awesome.

Fight for the people
Save the people
SOLIDERS rock to the top.
Thank you from a fifth grader

Dear any soldier
Thank you for seving our country.
You'r the Best in the world J. When you'r in the hospital I will help others for you J. (And then she drew apicture of herself and two soldiers: one white and one brown - it seems being politically correct has seeped down to 5th grade)

End Cards

A lot of kids wrote "Thank you for saving our country" - I was a little worried some teachers out there were teaching an over exaggerated view of the current fight in Iraq / Afghanistan - but then I realized"Saving" and "Serving" sound a lot alike - and then everything made sense again.

Some Life Lessons:
Pencil doesn't show up well on red or blue construction paper
A Sharpie shows up well on anything
Girls really do have better handwriting than boys - even at an early age
Kids are pretty awesome in their own right.

I got a card from some kids in Florida. Their teacher provided a short message with their return address as well as a crossword puzzle - only problem is that I'm probably the worst crossword puzzle person ever. Practice in the crossword puzzle book from Em didn't help matters. So once I figure this thing out I'll send it back with a reply to Jacob and Breanna.